MacBook Air Advice

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by bennybones, May 16, 2012.

  1. bennybones macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 16, 2012
    Location:
    NYC
    #1
    I am a long time Mac fan and former graphic designer who until recently had been using a 1st generation iPad as my "main computer" - i.e., I had sold both Macs and decided to take a much needed rest from standard upgrade, tech fever.

    While I no longer work as a designer I found myself needing a slightly more robust system than what the iPad had to offer in order to get my digital life in order - photos, music, contacts, etc. So I sold my iPad and got a base 2011 MacBook Air 11". Things have been great for the past few months, but a stop by the Apple store had me drooling over the new iPad and honestly I realize that I miss the joy of using it for most basic daily tasks - web browsing, email, apps, etc.

    So I'm wondering if you would keep my current set up: MacBook Air and ATV, or sell both and switch to Mac Mini as hub, htpc and occasional heavy-lifting + plus new iPad for general use?

    The Plex interface looks pretty nice to replace ATV (any experience / feedback with Mac Mini hooked up to HDTV as main machine?) and as nice as the MacBook Air is, I'm afraid it will show it's age sooner than later with the 2GB RAM and the battery life is really a step-backward after 10+ hours with an iPad.

    Appreciate the thoughts. Thanks.
     
  2. 184550 Guest

    Joined:
    May 8, 2008
    #2
    In your situation I'd go with the Mini and iPad. The mini is more versatile as is the iPad for mobile needs.
     
  3. TyroneShoes2, May 16, 2012
    Last edited: May 16, 2012

    TyroneShoes2 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2011
    #3
    Seems like an expensive way to go to sell them. You have what, $1100-1200 invested in the MBA/ATV? You will not recoup much of that by selling them. And I think the ATV might be integral for your htpc.

    A mini starts at $600, and you might want to beef that up. The iPad (new) of course starts at $500 for no LTE, and you might also not want the base model there. You also need a keyboard, mouse, and monitor (these days I recommend a 27-32" HDTV instead, which does mostly anything a monitor can do cheaper than a monitor, and doubles as an HDTV, meaning you can use it for that also right now, and repurpose it as an HDTV if you upgrade to a newer monitor down the road).

    Any way you look at it, its gonna cost you.

    This is why I got the 13" MBA which has a base 4GB and 128 GB SSD, to future-proof it long enough to keep from painting myself in this sort of corner. But you can go too far with that strategy too. I bought a 12.1 PB in 2004 and it still runs good, runs fast, but became obsolete due to its PPC eventually completely disenfranchising me from Snow Leopard/Lion, the App store, and iLife and iWork upgrades.

    IOW, the hardware level I bought survived well past 2011 (PB still going strong physically after 8 years) but the software availability did not, meaning I needed the MBA when it refreshed last August (the PB is now chained to my desk at work, so rather than schlep the MBA back and forth, I schlep a new iPad back and forth and when I really need the keyboard/mouse/Mac apps, I slide on over to the old PB).

    So in the spirit of not over-future-proofing the hardware, when I did finally upgrade, I did not get the i7 or larger SDD, hoping the initial savings there will let the MBA become obsolete for both hardware and software availability reasons at about the same time, hopefully 5 years or so down the road, hopefully more.

    But if you can afford a new car every year, you can afford to change Mac strategies every year also, I guess (my car is 12 years old and I have no intention of getting a new one).

    I don't think the Mini is quite the bargain it once was, either, although $599 isn't too bad for a i5/ 500 GB HDD/ 2 GB of RAM. I suggest the base model 2.3 i5 unless you really want the better graphics capability for an extra $200. You can upgrade the base model to 4 GB of RAM yourself much more inexpensively; either model is enough for a htpc.

    I bought the first dual-core Mini in 2006 for $499 and I expect that to serve my needs until Leopard becomes so obsolete that it wont be practical, which I hope is another 3 years from now. I really only needed the desktop to record the Howard Stern Show from Sirius and automatically put it on an iPod; I would have just used the PB but the record time coincides with work, and the PB can't be in two places at once.

    Also, you might want to wait for the Ivy Bridge refresh on the Mini, although it looks like it might come later than it will to the laptops. My strategy is to try to time up revs to when a significant hardware upgrade first happens simultaneous with a significant OS upgrade (which worked out pretty well for me getting a MBA/Lion in August).
     
  4. bennybones thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 16, 2012
    Location:
    NYC
    #4
    Thanks for the advice guys. I know there's no right answer here and that future-proofing is so much chasing your tail.

    If I go the Mac Mini and iPad route, it would be base models on both - maybe even refurb for the Mini. I feel like the Mac Mini should last a good 5 years with an eventual RAM upgrade to 8GBs when it begins to show signs of lagging with software updates. There will be a bigger, badder iPad every year, but honestly I was plenty happy with my first gen even as new revisions were coming out. Power/speed aren't really important to me for general web surfing, email, etc. and I don't plan on playing many games. It's the screen that screams value buy right now.

    Good point on cost of "switching" though. The MBA is in pristine shape and only a few months old so I'm confident I could get 750-800 for it. However with tax, track pad, keyboard, etc I will end up paying close to that for the Mini. This means I will basically just need to plan on buying the iPad out of pocket, which means I'm really only mulling a swap of Mini for Air - on the surface a terrible sounding trade out.

    There is something not quite appealing to me using the Mini as a real computer from time to time through the tv as well. Perhaps I am better off keeping MBA as my "hub" and just adding an external hard drive and maybe a mini iPad if that rumor pans out later this year.
     
  5. yusukeaoki macrumors 68030

    yusukeaoki

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    #5
    As TyroneShoes2 said, if you go Mini, you would have to buy a separate monitors as well.
    Mini at 600USD, iPad at 500USD, monitor being... lets say 200USD.

    That right there is nearly 1300USD.
    I would like to advise you to buy a base line MBA with a external HDD.
    MBA would have the screen (no monitor needed) and it has fair specs for graphic designing. Although Im not concrete about the graphic des, Im sure the base line would suit you (if not you can return it in 2 weeks).

    But for the MBA being 1000USD and external HDD being 200~300USD, its fairly close. And yet, you can carry your computer around with you.
     
  6. bennybones thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 16, 2012
    Location:
    NYC
    #6
    I'm sorry. I suppose I wasn't clear regarding my need for a new monitor. I have a 42" 1080p tv that I stream movies, music, etc through an ATV (first gen). The idea I have been mulling was to hook the Mini up to this tv as my digital hub and home theater, occasionally breaking out a keyboard when I needed to use the Mini as anything other than storage/entertainment center. The original ATV is only 720p so the upgrade would get me a better picture for movies and take advantage of the 1080p specs that are currently not being utilized.

    As for the MBA, I already own the base 11" model from 2011. In many ways it is my favorite Mac to date. It has a flawless build and just feels like the perfect balance between power and portability. However I don't do much design work these days, and the portability and battery life are actually better on the iPad. Add the fact that the iPad did 90% of things I needed a computer to do for well over a year and the fact that the MBA's RAM is already outdated and you have my dilemma.
     
  7. yusukeaoki macrumors 68030

    yusukeaoki

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    #7
    ohhh I see now.
    So maybe the Mac Mini would suit you a lot better.
    If you think the MBA is no need for you, just sell it and get the Mini.
    As long as the iPad does the job, most heavy work that iPad cant hadle can be done at home with the Mini.
     

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